Beowulf: Literary Analysis

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Tyler Hammond and Kyle Rhode
Edinger 6
English IV
09/18/12

The epic poem Beowulf has a plethora of literary devices, both characteristic of poetry in general and unique to Anglo- Saxon poetry. These devices enhance the sound of the originally sung story, thus conveying particular meaning and evoking an emotional response from the listening audience. Caesura, Alliteration, and kenning are among the devices that drive the intensity of Beowulf. One significant poetic device used in Beowulf is alliteration, and it appears in “the wrath of Grendal in which the narrator states, “went up to herot, wondering what the warriors.” In that sentence the use of the repetitive “w” shows how curious Grendal is about what the warriors are or would do if he decides to attack them. Then there is kenning, a colorful, roundabout way of naming people, objects and nature in Beowulf. Then when the narrator stated “in those rock-steep cliffs they quietly ended” was showing how Beowulf and his army landed on the new land, and how the steep cliffs had disappeared, as they were now in search of hunting and killing Grendal, and how the obstacle of getting there was gone. Lastly there is caesura which permeates Beowulf and his men especially in the line “and glowing in the sun - that most famous of all dwellings” which really shows how both Beowulf and his men were looking and moving so professionally alike, or quite specialized in the job that they will perform, and of all the people that are around, they should be the ones who should be able to pull off the killing of Grendal. To close it out I would like to reiterate the significant poetic devices which would be the Alliteration; the repetitiveness of a single letter sounding. Kenning; this is a colorful, roundabout way of naming people, objects, and nature. Caesura; this shows a complete pause in a line of poetry.
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